The Ministry of Health has issued a license to Ruatoria-based company Hikurangi Cannabis, allowing it to breed cannabis strains for medicinal use. This is only the second time the government has granted a license for cannabis cultivation – the first time being for university research.
Co-founder and CEO Manu Caddie began researching opportunities in the industry two years ago after realising it could provide new economic opportunities for the East Coast town. “Being able to execute our business and community goal of building a pharmaceuticals industry at Ruatoria is a significant milestone for us all,” Caddie said. “We are excited to be able to base this new industry in our community”.
Caddie said that without strong local support they might not have obtained the license and the opportunity to kickstart a new economy in the rural region. More than a thousand local families and other Kiwis invested $2.5 million in a crowdfunding campaign, allowing Hikurangi to negotiate with institutional investors and bring larger investments into the business.
Now that the license is granted, it’s all go. Hikurangi is aiming to provide safe and affordable medical cannabis to New Zealanders next year. “It’s encouraging to hear politicians and officials supporting the need to get New Zealand-made medicines to New Zealanders as quickly as possible,” he commented.
Hikurangi initially looked at producing two products: an oral syringe and a topical balm. Imported products can cost as much as $1000 per month, and Caddie hopes their products will be half that price.
The company will start building greenhouses and processing facilities near Ruatoria, and it’s commissioned clinical trials to begin next year for the first NZ-made products. Until then, they’ll be importing more affordable products, so they’re available to people who need them sooner.
The event isn’t just a milestone for the company – it’s also a big deal for the whole country. The Government’s medicinal cannabis bill is currently being finalised following the Select Committee process, and will likely have its second reading next month. It’s expected to pass.